Last week I dreamed that I peeled a thin layer of skin off my face.
It was an odd sensation, though not entirely unpleasant, as it just seemed to be dry and ready to fall away like I was a snake, shedding her skin. It came away almost in one piece to reveal fresh new skin underneath.
Shedding my skin and taking off a mask.
Seems about right.
The past year has seen me really question a lot of things I thought were certainties and a lot of things I took for granted about myself and my life. Compared to the year before of course, it’s been a quiet year. No whirlwind engagements or core-shaking, heart-breaking breakups.
Nonetheless it’s been a year of re-building, of taking stock of what was left when the dust settled and shifting of expectations and beliefs to fit the picture I was left with. Quiet, internal changes made no less monumental by their invisibility.
It’s always so strange to have a moment or a dream make you suddenly aware that you’re changing, growing, stretching beyond your capabilities and limits and what you new before. Usually you don’t know you’re changing until you look back.
Or maybe it’s just a sign I’m due for my first chemical peel.
(and by “first” I of course mean, I am never doing that)
I think it’s so fascinating that even when we shut everything else down, our brains are left to wander and sometimes to try to continue to puzzle out the challenges we face when we’re awake. How sometimes they make us aware of things we’re too busy to think about in our waking life.
What have you been dreaming about lately?
Dreams are funny things.
The first dream I remember having as a tiny girl was that I climbed a ladder to a star that was covered in every toy a tiny girl could wish for.
I swear I still remember this dream, although my mom did helpfully record what I told her about my nighttime adventure in my baby book, lest I forget.
My first nightmare was that I had accidentally turned my favourite cousin into a dog and couldn’t change her back. I was pretty inconsolable upon waking up from that one.
Last night I dreamed about walking into a parking lot full of rats, and having to hold myself up on a wall (in a physically impossible manner) to keep them from scurrying over my feet when some cats came and started an epic rat-cat battle.
While I often ponder the symbolism of my dreams, I think this one was pretty straightforward: I’m a little stressed these days and also, I saw some rats in a parking lot on my way home from work on Monday. Dream solved.
I’ve had seriously spooky dream occurrences, like having my grandfather, whom I don’t think I’d ever dreamed about before, show up in my dreams the night before he died. I actually get a bit nervous whenever a close friend or family member shows up in a dream now.
Oh, and of course, if I sleep during the day, or when I’m under too much stress, I get sleep paralysis and weird dream-like hallucinations that go along with it.
As well as fairly common stress dreams that pop up occasionally, (teeth falling out, going blind, being unable to move, or realizing I’ve forgotten to wear clothes to a public event), I go through phases of having recurring dreams or nightmares.
As a kid, I had one where a terrifying troll-like creature guarded the hallway between my family, who were all downstairs having a party, and tiny Sarah, upstairs, and I had to figure out some way to get past it.
Before I was old enough to drive, I had a recurring nightmare where I was riding in the backseat of a car only to suddenly realize that no one was driving.
And, always, I’ve dreamed about tornadoes. Maybe it was because of the tornado drills we had to practise in elementary school, because I’ve never actually encountered a tornado, but I’ve had that dream so many times it feels like I’ve lived through one.
What’s interesting about these dreams, is that while they start out as nightmares, with the scary troll, the out of control car and the tornado, once I’ve had them a few times, some part of my brain recognizes that “Oh, we’ve been here before” and it starts to problem solve. To the point that now, when the dream begins, I’m only frightened for a moment before I hop into the driver’s seat and steer myself to safety or I lead everyone into the basement to weather the storm.
I don’t know how this happens, or how some part of my brain can be so alert and aware, while still not being aware or alert enough to just wake me up and remove myself from the perceived danger entirely.
Have any of you guys experienced this? Do you have recurring nightmares or dreams and do you put any stock in analyzing them for meaning or symbols?
The other night I dreamed about bears. Three Giant, terrifying, man-eating bears that somehow squeezed into my family home, the baby attacking my brother, who didn’t hear my parents and me frantically yelling for him to stay upstairs.
My mom came to his rescue by full-body tackling the giant baby bear and inexplicably dragging it up the stairs as some kind of hostage, thinking she could reason with the adult bears, I suppose, leaving my dad and I downstairs while the giant bear parents followed her. “Why does no one have a gun?!” I screamed at my dad as I frantically went through the kitchen drawers looking for something to kill a murderous gang of bears with and realizing that all of us were about to be horribly killed as I handed him a large bread knife.
I snapped awake with a gasp, terrified, and then, relieved. Relieved to wake to a reality where my family and I were not engaged in a fight to the death with giant evil bears, sure, but also to be waking up, for the first time in months, from a nightmare that was not about my ex-fiance.
Relieved to wake up just scared, not sad, not angry, just afraid. Relieved not to wake up to a face wet with unconscious tears I refused to cry while awake. Relieved to feel like myself again, if only for a little while. Relieved to catch a glimpse of sun, new growth, a whiff of living earth.
Any sign to hold onto, anything to believe that spring will indeed come.
That this long, cold winter will soon just be a memory, no more than a bad dream.
There’s something going on with me and birds lately.
Two weeks ago, I had a ridiculous standoff with a pigeon (for my thoughts on pigeons, see here) that had weirdly hunkered down, blocking the narrow shortcut I take around the building I work in. I sidled by slowly, back pressed to the wall, eyes locked on beady eyes while speaking to it in soothing tones. “That’s right. You just stay there. No sudden movements and we’ll all be just fine,” before dashing for the safety of the parking lot.
The next week, on my early morning walk to Barreworks, I had to duck (heh) to avoid, not one, but three different birds: a sparrow, another damn pigeon, and a GIANT HAWK.
Not only did the hawk swoop down in the middle of the city, but it actually let out one of those haunting hawk screams as it dipped by my ear. It was spooky. I might have convinced myself I was still dreaming if not for the fact that there was an equally stunned, middle-aged woman in a floral housecoat putting out her garbage, who witnessed the whole thing.
Last night I dreamed that I ate an owl. I don’t really remember the context, or maybe in that dream way, there wasn’t any, but I promptly regretted it, and projectile vomited owl bits all over the place.
I woke up with a stomach ache.
I’m not sure what it all means, but I think I’ll avoid Swiss Chalet for a while anyway.